Pandemic Pushes the Demand for Thermal Imaging Cameras

FLIR Systems and Seek Thermal, two manufacturers of thermal imaging equipment, are working overtime to meet demand for companies preparing to return to work. One essential criterion for reopening has emerged as the ability to detect body temperatures of workers, to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Oregon-based FLIR’s shares rose about 16 percent after Reuters reported that Amazon plans to use thermal cameras at its warehouses and Whole Foods stores, although neither FLIR not Seek were listed as the supplier. Continue reading Pandemic Pushes the Demand for Thermal Imaging Cameras

Pandemic Tests Big Tech Firms, Slows VC Money for Startups

This week, big tech companies such as IBM and Intel will report quarterly earnings, followed by Apple, Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft next week. Some companies — such as Amazon, Intel, Micron Technology and Microsoft — are doing well, even growing, whereas Facebook and Alphabet deal with a dramatic plunge in advertising. Even Apple issued a “rare profit warning.” The pandemic is hitting startups particularly hard, as venture capital money dries up and they are forced to lay off staff. Continue reading Pandemic Tests Big Tech Firms, Slows VC Money for Startups

Amazon Tries to Temporarily Tamp Down Consumer Demand

Amazon is so overwhelmed by orders that it’s trying to slow down demand. CommerceIQ’s Guru Hariharan said the growth of the last few months would ordinarily take years, comparing it to a “a run on the bank.” Not all products are available, and some will take weeks to deliver. Amazon has earmarked supplies for Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods and, for some products, prioritized customers with recurring orders. It’s also changed its website to discourage buying, even cancelling Mother’s Day and Father’s Day promotions. Continue reading Amazon Tries to Temporarily Tamp Down Consumer Demand

Ride-Sharing Slumps, Leaving Uber and Lyft Drivers in Limbo

Since the coronavirus outbreak, Uber’s business slumped between 60 and 70 percent. After saying in February that it expected to generate between $16 billion and $17 billion this year, the company now says it cannot forecast its revenue. D.A. Davidson senior research analyst Tom White said that, with regard to ride-sharing, “the whole country is going to be down 70 to 80 percent.” The coronavirus has also highlighted a crucial labor issue: whether ride-share drivers are considered employees or independent contractors. Continue reading Ride-Sharing Slumps, Leaving Uber and Lyft Drivers in Limbo

FCC Backs Ligado Plan to Develop L-Band Spectrum for 5G

In opposition to the Pentagon, Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai backed Ligado Networks’ plan to develop the L-band spectrum of airwaves for cellular service. In his draft order, Pai stipulated “certain conditions” that would protect against interference with Global Positioning System technology. Opponents say the company’s usage would interfere with military operations and weather forecasting bandwidth. Ligado, originally known as LightSquared, went bankrupt in 2012 when its business plans were rejected. Continue reading FCC Backs Ligado Plan to Develop L-Band Spectrum for 5G

Facebook Narrows Scope of Proposed Libra Cryptocurrency

Facebook and its partners pulled back their ambitious plans for the Libra cryptocurrency, which was unveiled last June as “a futuristic global money” that could be the foundation of a “new kind of financial system.” In the months since its June debut, the Libra project has encountered a range of obstacles and the scrutiny of regulators. The Swiss-backed Libra Association, citing global opposition to the project, now aims to create a payment network with coins tied to a local currency. Continue reading Facebook Narrows Scope of Proposed Libra Cryptocurrency

Microsoft and NBA Sign Multiyear Deal for AI, Cloud Services

Microsoft and the National Basketball Association have inked a multiyear deal to build a consumer-facing digital platform to debut with the 2020-2021 season. The NBA will utilize the tech company’s Azure cloud computing and artificial intelligence capabilities to customize games and experiences. The deal’s terms were not revealed, but it covers all NBA properties including the Women’s National Basketball Association and USA Basketball. To win the deal, Microsoft bested cloud competitors Amazon and Google. Continue reading Microsoft and NBA Sign Multiyear Deal for AI, Cloud Services

ASWF Announces Its Next Project: Open Shading Language

The Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), developed by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the Linux Foundation to provide a neutral forum for open source software developers, announced that its sixth hosted project is Open Shading Language (OSL), originally developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks. OSL, which was honored with an Academy Scientific and Technical Award in 2017, is now the de facto standard shading language for VFX and animation. ASWF also stated that AMD and DockYard have joined as new members. Continue reading ASWF Announces Its Next Project: Open Shading Language

Instagram’s New Stickers to Help Support Small Businesses

Instagram noted that, “small businesses are an important part of our community, and many are facing immense challenges during the COVID‑19 crisis.” The social media platform is now making it easier for small businesses to share gift card, food order and fundraiser stickers in their profiles and Stories. Aimed at increasing user engagement, Instagram is also trying out a new “Challenge” sticker for Stories which, when applied, would allow users to tag connections and invite them to partake in visual competitions. Continue reading Instagram’s New Stickers to Help Support Small Businesses

Houseparty Chat Expands Beyond Teens to Wider Audience

Zoom has gotten a lot of attention as the popular video chat platform that’s soared in usage since the COVID-19 shutdown. But Houseparty is another video chat platform with free mobile and desktop apps that’s gaining traction. Originally targeting teens, Houseparty offers features designed to encourage interaction, such as jumping into a conversation or playing trivia games remotely. In the last month, Houseparty has had 50 million signups, about 70 times its typical number in some markets, said cofounder and chief executive Sima Sistani. Continue reading Houseparty Chat Expands Beyond Teens to Wider Audience

NBCUniversal Launches Peacock Service for Comcast Subs

NBCUniversal debuted its streaming platform Peacock to more than 10 million subscribers of parent company Comcast’s cable service using Xfinity X1 and Flex devices. Peacock is slated for a wider rollout this summer. With the coronavirus pandemic forcing many in the U.S. to stay at home, TV and streaming services have seen skyrocketing usage, according to Nielsen. Streaming via Comcast Xfinity was up 50 percent in March from February. NBC had planned to promote Peacock during the Tokyo Summer Games, which have since been postponed. Continue reading NBCUniversal Launches Peacock Service for Comcast Subs

In Grim Ad Market, Even Facebook and Google See Declines

Facebook and Google’s ad businesses appeared to be unstoppable, tripling over the last five years and accounting for more than half of online advertising expenditure. That long run appears to be over with the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the global economy. Wall Street is now projecting that annual revenues for the two companies will decline for the first time in their histories, due in part to record low prices for advertising. Even so, prospects are even more dire for the overall digital advertising industry. Continue reading In Grim Ad Market, Even Facebook and Google See Declines

Apple Preps for Release of New iPhones, HomePod Speaker

Apple is readying the fall release of its new iPhone line-up, including the redesign and the addition of 5G to two high-end phones and two less expensive models to replace the iPhone 11. Sources report that among the redesign of the top-tier phones are flat stainless-steel edges and flat screens. Yesterday, the company delivered a virtual unveiling of its new iPhone SE, featuring a design similar to its older iPhone 8. Apple also plans to release a new version of its HomePod speaker that is smaller and cheaper than the original, in addition to Apple Tags for tracking keys, wallets and other objects. Continue reading Apple Preps for Release of New iPhones, HomePod Speaker

While Streaming Services Surge, a Number of Hurdles Loom

Streaming video is in high demand, as millions of people sheltering at home seek entertainment. According to a poll of 2,000 people by The Wall Street Journal and the Harris Poll, Americans spent $37 per month on streaming services in March, up from the $30 they spent in November. Amazon Studios chief operating officer Albert Cheng calls the rising metrics “jaw-dropping.” The Walt Disney Company is also experiencing a bump, with its Disney+ signing up 50 million global subscribers within five months of launching. However, existing and emerging services face a mounting recession and delayed productions. Continue reading While Streaming Services Surge, a Number of Hurdles Loom

YouTube Sees Leap in Viewership, Yet Decline in Advertising

Millions of people are watching YouTube for news on the coronavirus. Chief product officer Neal Mohan reported viewership rose 75 percent compared to a year earlier. YouTube reaches more than two billion global viewers every month. But, even as viewership ticks upward, digital advertising has dramatically slowed and advertising rates are plummeting, leaving anyone who makes their living on YouTube in a financially vulnerable position. “Everyone is pausing their campaigns on YouTube,” said YouTube advisor Carlos Pacheco. Continue reading YouTube Sees Leap in Viewership, Yet Decline in Advertising

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